My grandfather was a lay minister in the Methodist Church. To be honest, Methodism is not by background even though I went to a Methodist Seminary for my MDiv (oooh, impressive).
I wonder if a message from the Scripture that he shared in 1960 will still be applicable today? Is that possible? Everything has changed since 1960. The portable calculator was invented in 1967. Post-it notes came around in 1973. 1987 saw disposable contact lenses hit the scene. Minor examples of all that has changed since 1960.
Is it possible that a Biblical message from 1960 could still speak today? That is possible if indeed Hebrews 4:12 is true which says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (NIV1984). It’s also true if we aren’t so different today as we were then. Little changes with people. We have the same challenges and same issues. Thankfully the Holy Word of God also does not change, but indeed is living and active to meet our questions and issues of the day.
What did he say all those years ago?
First Methodist Church Sunday School of Beacon, Beacon, New York, October 1960
“Our Church, A Candle in the Darkness”
Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
I think most of us have had the experience of walking into a dark room, and for a few moments we are unable to adjust ourselves to the condition. If we try to walk around before our eyes are accustomed to the darkness, we stumble into things. This is just the way it is with our trying to find God and trying to help others to find him. God is pretty much in the dark until our church, through its various groups, helps us to find our way to Him by lighting a candle of knowledge. The church helps you young people to find God through His Son Jesus, by lighting the Sunday School candle for you. The teachers, who themselves have searched for God, and have found Him in one way or another, who constantly study God’s teachings to be able to give you a simplified explanation of the complex teachings, are the matches that light the Sunday School candle for you.
Now every good, honest Christian knows that he, in himself, is not the candle which lights the way to Christ, for God Himself is the only true light of the world. But by our example in leading as near a perfect Christian life as we are capable of, we show others that God is influencing us, and this has to be by good actions, not bad, for if we act badly God is not working through us, then we will gradually entice others to follow our example.
Your church is a Christian community of a great number of candles lighting the way toward Jesus Christ. You have your minister, your various commissions, your official board, your men’s club, your women’s societies, your Sunday school, your junior and senior MYF, your choir, your congregation… these are all candles, through which shines the light of the world, the blinding, brilliant light of God Almighty. If any of these candles was to hide his light under a basket, in other words, was not to make known loud and clear through word, act, and deed, that it was working for the greater glory of our Heavenly Father, this church would lose some of its influence toward good in the community of Beacon where it is located, and if all of these candles were to hid their light under a basket, this church would cease to exist, and its share of the good influence in this community of Beacon would be lost completely. As a result, the illumination which this church brings to its own people, and to others with whom it comes in contact… the community at large, in fact, the illumination which helps show all these many people how to find a pathway to God, would be gone and many of these people would probably never know a God existed unless they went elsewhere to find out.
You children who attend Sunday School every Sunday morning, are a very brightly shining candle in this church. When you walk into this church on Sunday morning, many people you do not know see you, and the profession of faith by the very act of entering God’s house, is an enlightening beacon to them. None of us will ever know how much our profession of faith, our little candle flame, may affect others toward a searching for God, and consequently, toward a better life. The path to God, for most people, is not a wide, modern highway on which they zoom to the glorious meeting, rather, it is a slow, hard, inch-by-inch crawl over boulders and obstructions. So don’t ever feel that people won’t know you are a Christian, if you really and truly are, and that they won’t be affected by you toward God. However slight may be your affect on them, and maybe you will never know it, God will take care of the affect, and He who knows and takes care of all things, will see that you help light someone’s path along the rocky road, if you use Him as your source of light.
Your church is a candle in the darkness, and you are a candle in the darkness, and all you little candles can help keep this big candle out from under the basket.